Philly Phaithful
Better With Popcorn

Flyers Find Physicality, Consistency in 3-2 Win Over Pittsburgh

In what seems to be some type of baffling mix-up, the Philadelphia Flyers have won two straight games in Pittsburgh. Even more baffling is through the team’s inconsistent play; they’re tied for first in the always-tough Atlantic Division. And, perhaps most baffling of all; the Flyers finally have won two games in a row. The Flyers have been as unpredictable as any team in the NHL this season. Friday night in Pittsburgh proved no different. Although, this time, it was the good kind of unpredictability that the Flyers provided.

To be quite honest, Pittsburgh has owned the Flyers in recent years and after the 5-1 Penguins win in Philadelphia it seemed like the frustration had finally overwhelmed Mike Richards. If you want to do yourself a great service, go back and read what I had to say about the game and his quotes. To make a long story short, Richards shot off at the mouth about Matt Cooke and the Penguins falling easily, and so on. Well, immediately after the puck was dropped, Richards backed up his words. He dropped the gloves with Cooke, and a few moments later, Jody Shelley fought Deryk Engelland. After more penalties were handed out and everyone finally had a chance to catch their breath, the penalty boxes seemed to be overflowing and the pace of the game wasn’t flowing at all.

After the Penguins scored first on a pretty tic-tac-toe play from Evgeni Malkin to Kris Letang, the inevitable feeling of ‘Here we go again’ crept around my head. Down 1-0 and looking terribly slow, the Captain came up big. Richards made one of his prototypical defensive plays on an early second period penalty kill. After poking the puck through the neutral zone and along the boards to avoid the diving Letang, he fired a beautiful centering pass to Claude Giroux. Giroux did what he had done already once this year, he deked Marc-Andre Fleury out of his athletic supporter and tallied the tying goal.

Dan Carcillo (yes, that Dan Carcillo) added the go ahead goal at the end of the second period on an extremely weird deflection that somehow got under Fleury’s pads. After Giroux netted another goal in the third (this time on the PP), the Flyers somehow survived a late Penguins barrage with a 3-2 regulation win. Sergei Bobrovsky played probably his best game of the season, and the team just managed to keep plugging away and prodding along through the game. Often times, when the Flyers beat the Penguins it’s because they keep the score low and make the game ugly. Tonight, they did both and they did them extremely well.

Next up on the schedule is a date with the New York Islanders tomorrow night in Philadelphia. If the Flyers win, they’ll finally have some substantial success to draw from this season. A three game winning streak could do wonders for some of the slow-starting offensive players as well as some newcomers on the team. I expect Brian Boucher to get the start in goal and Nik Zherdev to play after being a healthy scratch against Pittsburgh. Laviolette cited ‘toughness’ as the reason why Carcillo was in the starting lineup over Zherdev and can’t help but think that he realized there would be a raised level of physicality after Richards’ comments last game. Flyers fans have only witnessed the team play back-to-back nights once this season, and it also happened to be this week. After dropping a game in Columbus 2-1, the Flyers beat Buffalo at home, 6-3. They played with a chip on their shoulder against Buffalo; it should be interesting to see how they respond after a big victory on the road. With this Flyers team, it’s always interesting.

As I try to wrap my head around two straight wins in Pittsburgh, feel free to email me at mtrible@thecheckingline.com or follow me at www.twitter.com/mtrible